there is a stillness within
from which every vibration
in the universe burst forth

i clenched my teeth
and tensed my back
as though it all was all
a burden to resist

until i didn’t
his chattering mind
is rattling on
about its story
trying to remember
all the pieces
and what they mean
and in the spaciousness
of innate perfection
he is smiled upon
with absolute compassion
as can never be understood
by the rational mind
my heart beats and i am breathed
by the One Life of all the universe
i am a stream of atoms
flowing in timeless ness
i am in the gaps i don’t normally see
strictly metaphorically
as we like to say with our words
i must tirelessly cop to it over and over
ceaselessly repeating
so i won’t get it wrong again
ad nauseam
until i no longer need that lie,
my customized version of the past
until one day i surrender and i don’t

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art


now when it arises
anger resentment regret fear
i feel a tinge of excitement too
down in the swamp in the mud
in the darkest steaming depths
if i stay face to face with it
i find at last what my belief withheld
not yet fully seen but a sense
an openness to some bright dawning thing
that formerly could not be imagined
it is a love filled and glorious possibility

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art

in the beginning

was apparent death chaos loss
of everything yet i stepped through
my mother’s ghost to a timeless realm to
a truth just beyond the veil of appearances
where somehow i was always held
and in this moment still am being healed

i felt it most strongly at first
beneath a warm green Ozark lake
8 years old i dove fearlessly deep
trusting the capacity of my breath
the mammalian instinct to slow the heart
to glide fluidly through the caress
of soft sun-bladed living water

other times i was alone in the trees
a clear brook wound through mossy cedar
disappeared beneath a tangled web of roots
and emerged again into a channel

a startling slap of beaver tail

further up an otter gliding peered up
briefly as he sinuously rolled
both of us planning trout for dinner

the wind rustles its way through tall grass
glinting sunlight ripples along wavelets
a current of light broadens onto a vast lake
not visited by man for months the ducks
explode into flashing flight hundreds of them

all of this is real, all happening now
i breathe with all of life in ascending hues
its exuberant expression washes through me
and in every aware moment i am reborn

this is real, all happening now
i love the ache of lungs as light approaches
the transition from water into sky
the dazzling droplets flung in celebration
for this indrawn breath of miraculous new life

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20190112


where now i behold in you
the light of your spirit
the way your particular hue
flows across wintry prairie

to arrive here in this moment
you know it’s required that we recognize
the improbable magic of the heart
that arises in the absence of comment

this is nothing personal you see
we hug like the family we know we are
completely in this moment at home
we are floating away as personified love

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20190101

tragic stories

when i was 6 years old
my 3 younger sisters at grandma’s
dad at work our tiny little house
unusually spacious & quiet she killed herself

there arose among the shuffle of
assembled police, detectives & coroners
a story tragic suicide by shotgun flashlights

swept across the bed where recently
we both were lying one peacefully dreaming
one slowly dying of unknown suffering

i have almost no memory of her but
i know she was terribly frustrated & angry
that much i do remember vividly how
i first easily slipped out of my body

i was still in diapers had made a mess
& she was disgusted mad as hell
kept spanking my bare red ass
while i screamed bloody murder

& then i was observing floating
high near the bright window
where spring sunlight spilled in
& i knew i would always remember
this moment of calm & absolute safety

and that one day late in life
gathered with you i would share
the real point of the story which is
that very few things are actually true

that death is not the opposite of life
that one power courses through us all
and has always sustained our survival
has been steadily lifting us to this point

where pages scatter across the floor
& we fully relax into our bodies &
willingly open hearts release our death grip
on the burdensome stories we think are ours

now when we are offered
moments of grace
following wordless silence
let us be ready
to accept the offer

let us be present
to receive this gift

the one we’ve
frantically searched for
all of our tragic lives

until now

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20181226

winter solstice

winter solstice full moon rises
hangs huge above the eastern horizon
the chill clear air so still
light is given greater definition

i have this sense of only knowing
things relative to where i am
how our planet corkscrews around a sun
hurtling through space at 450,000 mph

in a giant spiral orbiting Sol
at 70,000 mph racing to catch up
we only see a gentle tug
on the blanket of stars
and are serenely transported along

with our thin film of breathable air
held close to the ground for us
how intertwined we are with a
fragile membrane of balanced elements

and one another as well do we know
that this moment is our only chance
to claim and live our earthly lives?
how can we still feel poor,
standing on our piles of treasure?

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20181221


sometimes i see
on moonlit nights like this
a trace of frosty mist it

delineates the darkness
i release from me always
there is more it’s necessary

without this tracing
of the inky midnight air
would i ever perceive what is

clearly here in every moment
would i ever truly receive
the luminous shivering gift of this?

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20181208


we walk briskly
down wide leaf lined streets
my canine friend and i alive together
content beneath a rising november moon

panting and click of thick toenails
soft steady clomp of boot heels

all of the commuters have settled in
it is just the two of us now walking
alongside lawns where first snowfall
recently receded without a sound

only silence remains briefly punctuated
by our movement the chill clarity
of departing breath our quiet passing
beneath arching trees yearning skyward

listening and sniffing the still air
our muscles filled with joyful blood
we find more distant stars are joining
& that everything arrives as darkness descends

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20181115

welcome back

welcome back you old bastard
the curmudgeon i periodically become
tense beneath a wide blue missouri sky

while soft loving sunlight seeps in
dances rhythmically through the car window
probing me for faint signs of life

what is this pernicious thinking
a dark sludge that expands exponentially
dragging me into stories of separation?

words, always words, and thinking
that there is some right way to act
so you will all affirm your love

you see me, you hear and console me
and therefore i feel i have been born
that my existence is as real as the sky

the vast blue sky and dying landscape
reel by flickering beyond the window
quietly preparing for a long hibernation

the darkness arrives sooner each day
with each dawn the trees are more barren
the cold seeps deeply into aging bones

in another few seasons all will be dust
and whether or not i’ve been here
will matter not a bit to the living

so i ask you what is the point of this
how am i to behave as this particular fiction
and how can you pretend to know anything

you and i, us and them, a throng
of labels, descriptions of characters,
how does talking ever help anything

and why share these depressing thoughts
the law of mind action piles more
and more upon the festering heap

perhaps when i break under the weight
i will see again clearly perhaps
in the deafening silence i will hear

please let me break apart in time
i desire that my blood be filled
with golden radiance my mind dissolved

and all that i am to be known
written down and verified in my heart
safely protected from my dark thoughts

i want to sleep and awaken in my veins
i want to give you the kindness i intend
and i think my absence is the only way

this staggering pile of beliefs can ignite
and join the universal energy yes
i surrender them all and blissfully rest

my blood warms in the waning sun
my heart continues to seek you so now
at last may we rest silently in love?

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 20181110

mother earth

you are the tangible infinite
the life in water
on land and in the sky

strong and supple
are your rolling fields

i stretch upon
your sinuous grasses
i am one with your clay
your elements cycle through me

your touch is everywhere
each indrawn breath
comes from your mouth

every gasp of wonder
is a prayer of gratitude
whispered back to you

such beauty seems impossible
yet it is here surrounding me

you are the one i see
when i think of divinity
your soft sacred kiss
is the one i feel
as real and tender
as all the world
can be

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art